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  • 6 Ways to Help a Breech Baby Turn and Get Into Head-Down Position

    You want your baby to be in a head-down position if you're aiming for a vaginal birth.
    by Rachel Perez .
6 Ways to Help a Breech Baby Turn and Get Into Head-Down Position
PHOTO BY iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • As her due date gets near, a pregnant mom will start praying for her unborn baby to get into a head-down position, which will vastly improve her chances of delivering her little bundle of joy via natural spontaneous delivery (NSD) or vaginal birth.

    Babies in the womb change their positions often. One minute his heartbeat is on your left side, and next thing you know you're feeling his kicks on the opposite side. It's between the 32nd to 38th weeks of your pregnancy, when doctors pay more attention to your baby's position in the womb. How your little one lies in your uterus as you go into labor dictates how you can safely deliver your baby.

    Cephalic, breech, transverse, or oblique position

    Doctors have medical terms that describe how your baby lies or is positioned inside your womb.

    The cephalic or vertex position is ideal for a vaginal delivery. The baby's head is pointed towards the birth canal with his legs tucked into his tummy. It's even more suitable if your baby is facing your spine with his or her chin tucked into his chest. If the baby is facing your tummy, vaginal delivery might take longer than usual since the baby will press down your spine as he goes through the birth canal.

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    Breech position, on the other hand, is when your baby is poised to come out of your vagina bottom or feet first. While a breech birth is not unusual — it has been done successfully countless times — it comes with a lot of risks. There are several types of breech:

    • A complete or flexed breech is when the baby's bottom is positioned to come out first with both his knees bent and crossed.
    • A Frank breech is when the baby's bum is placed to come out of the birth canal first with legs stretched and flat up against the body.
    • An incomplete breech is when one or both of his legs (footling breech) or knees (kneeling breech) are dangling toward the birth canal.

    Only three to four babies in every 100 pregnancies remain in breech at the time of the birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are a lot of factors why a baby is in breech position: 

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    • It's your first pregnancy. Your abdominal muscles are not that stretched or flexible yet so it may be difficult for baby to move and turn.
    • Your uterus is not normal in shape or has abnormal growths such as fibroids.
    • You have a low-lying placenta, or you have placenta previa, which means your placenta is partially or fully blocking or your cervix.
    • You have too much or too little amniotic fluid. Again, this may restrict or allow too much movement of your unborn baby.
    • You are having multiples. There might not be enough space in your uterus for you babies to turn head-first into your cervix.

    If your baby is in a transverse position at birth, it means that your baby is lying sideways in your uterus. An oblique position, on the other hand, is when your baby head is aiming for mom's thigh instead of the birth canal. Doctors often decide to deliver a transverse baby via C-section (CS). There may yet be hope for babies in breech or oblique positions.

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    How to turn your breech baby's position around

    There are many ways to encourage your unborn baby to change positions in the womb. A lot of them have to do with using gravity to your advantage. While these do not guarantee success, there no harm in trying as long as you do it upon the advice of your doctor. 

    1. Pelvic rocking

    Heidi Murkoff writes in her book What To Expect When You're Expecting, that rocking back and forth a few times while you're down on all fours may encourage baby to rotate.

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    2. Forward-leaning inversion

    A forward-leaning inversion position can be done in different ways. While you're on all fours, try bending over so your butt is up and your tummy is almost touching the floor. Hold that position for 20 minutes three times a day.

    You can also use an ironing board, with one end is on the bed or couch, and the other end is on the floor. Rest your head on a pillow on the floor end of the board as your feet are elevated. Hold the position for 20 minutes.

    3. Pelvic tilts

    It's a safe and simple exercise routine for preggos. Lie on the floor and raise your hips as you inhale and exhale. Make sure your feet remain planted on the ground with your knees bent.

    You can also stand with your back against the wall and relax your spine. As you inhale, press the small of your back against the wall, and then exhale. Repeat several times. 

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    4. Swimming

    Doing a few gentle laps in the pool every day could also help. Being in the water helps give your baby the illusion that he or she is suspended and may be encouraged to turn. 

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    5. Yoga, belly dancing, and walking

    Yoga involves holding different positions, similar to forward-leaning inversions, while belly dancing uses the same principles as pelvic rocks and tilts. Sometimes, doctors just encourage moms-to-be to walk, as most babies often get into position when it's time for labor and delivery.

    5. Play music or record your voice

    Play the music or recorded voice near your pelvic area (yes, near your vagina). The idea is your baby will be drawn to the sounds and get into the ideal position for vaginal birth. We know it sounds like hocus-pocus but many moms in our Smart Parenting Village Facebook group attest to its effectiveness.

    6. Ask a doctor to perform ECV

    External cephalic version (ECV) is a procedure where a doctor places firm but gentle pressure on your abdomen when you are 36 to 38 weeks pregnant. There are certain conditions, though, before your doctor will agree to perform this procedure. There should also be an operating room ready in case complications — bleeding and rupture of the placenta, preterm labor, or reduced fetal movements — happen.

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    Some use alternative medicine and techniques such as acupuncture and traditional Chines medicine or moxibustion, or a combination of both. Some turn to chiropractors and the Webster technique to help set a breech baby into transverse position. Again, only start these baby-turning activities with your doctor's go-signal.

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